So it’s 4th of July weekend, and did you really think I’d let the big day go by, offering up just a measley Netflix exorcism movie to mark the occassion? Let’s roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty with a two-fisted celebration of all-American values….
Joel Silver could certainly package an action movie in the 80’s and 90’s, and Road House is a good example of his trade. Whatever audience feelings might have been about Patrick Swayze’s believability as a super-tough bouncer, the diminutive star manages to cut the mustard as Dalton, a man who has a talent for ripping throats out with his bare hands in this corny but enjoyable slice of action.
Dalton moves from NYC to Jasper, Mississippi to keep the locals in line at the Double Deuce, an odd rough-and-tumble drinking den that’s more brightly lit than an airport lounge, where the baby-faced Jeff Healey appears to permanently playing his guitar on-stage and Kathleen Wilhoite, yes, Luke’s sister in Gilmore Girls, hangs out at the bar. Dalton’s presence annoys sleaze-ball local boss Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who has the locals contributing a good ten per cent of their income to his slush fund, which he seems to spend on idiotic henchmen and a lair of giant stuffed animals and polar bears.
Such ostentatious living is alien to the humble Dalton, who prefers to live in a shack without electricity that he hires from a local Santa. Dalton and Wesley are on a collision course, and if that’s not enough to hang a redneck movie on, Mr America Sam Elliott comes to the rescue as bouncer’s bouncer Wade Garrett and there’s even a gratuitous ‘intimidation by monster truck’ set piece involving smashing up a car dealership.
While no masterpiece, Road House just about gets the job done with hiss-able villains and knockabout camaraderie from the leads. The romantic subplot is a bit of a pain, but Road House has a far more accomplished cast than a Patrick Swayze punch-up flick requires, and it’s a guilty pleasure for when a serious film is just too much trouble. When your director is called Rowdy Herrington, you probably know what you’re getting, and Road House has it right up to here.